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Opinion Piece: GOP ‘Access to Care Bill’ Contradicts Claim for State’s Rights

Posted on behalf of Greg Coleman Law on Mar 29, 2017 in General

United States capitol buildingIn an opinion piece in The Hill, a contributing writer argues that the GOP’s proposed Protecting Access to Care Act directly contradicts the party’s long-held reputation as the party that fights for state’s rights and a minimalist government.

Harm to State's Rights

In his argument, the author juxtaposes GOP leaders’ main argument for supporting the American Health Care Act against their push for the Protecting Access to Care Act.

The first act advocates for reducing federal requirements for states in distributing Medicaid funding so that states can better design Medicaid programs to meet the unique needs of each state. The latter does just the opposite and places a federal cap on noneconomic damages that can be recovered in lawsuits against healthcare and medical providers.

Noneconomic damages provide compensation to an injury victim or surviving family member for the non-monetary damages he or she has experienced because of the other party’s actions. This can include pain and suffering, disability or disfigurement, loss of companionship, and loss of enjoyment of life.

The author argues that H.R. 1215, which places a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases, is a stark contrast to the claim that states should be able to create programs that are best for each state’s population.

He notes that this law would, in fact, override and violate at least 18 state constitutions. Prior to this proposed legislation, the issue of limits on damages has always stayed within state legislatures and courts.

Furthermore, he notes that several states have already enacted their own carefully crafted damages caps, which would be overruled by H.R. 1215. The Tennessee Civil Justice Act of 2011 for instance places a cap of $750,000, or $1 million in cases involving catastrophic injury, on noneconomic damages that can be recovered in medical malpractice cases, with some exceptions.

Harm to Patients

Additionally, the author argues that a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages is simply not enough to compensate victims for the preventable and permanent damages they have suffered because of another’s negligence.

He argues that this bill limits the value of the losses from a devastating injury, such as losing the use of your arms or legs, without ever hearing the evidence specific to that individual’s case.

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